The Search for the Right Notebook

An ongoing quest.

Even though I’m a computer guy, and type fast, and write illegibly, notebooks are useful.  I need to get down little things quick before they distract me from the main line of work, and I need to do little work calculations and drawings that I can’t do as quickly on a computer.  And it’s useful to have the pages preserved in order; not very often, but it’s very useful when it does come up.

The TOPS Docket Quad Steno is interesting. It’s the only thing I could find that was top spiral bound and quad ruled (or any kind of graph paper). However, the price that showed just now online is $3 more than I paid in the store, which was already fairly expensive.

Tops Docket Quad Steno


Good points:

  • Quad ruled
  • Stiff backing board (can be written on hand-held)

Bad points:

  • Light paper (16 lb; my heavy black pens show through enough that using the backs is out of the question).
  • Expensive, even at $4.99, absurd at $7.99

Other features:

  • Perforated pages
  • Nice tuquoise lines
  • Margins at edge of page (quad doesn’t go to the edge)

I’ve mostly used side-bound notebooks.  Spiral is my definite preference because they open flat.  I wanted to try a top-bound, though, and a smaller size again. I was even willing to consider a ruled rather than quad book, but this one turned up and avoided that necessity.

cambridge quad
Campbridge Quad

The other decent notebook I know about is the Mead five-star  notebook. At least, I think that’s the current version of the one I’m getting towards the end of.  Again, issues are decent and heavy paper, and a good firm backing board.  Even though I do mostly write on them on a table, I hate them being all floppy. This is about $6, and the pages are bigger, and at least on the older one I have I can often use both sides of the page, so it’s a lot more days of use than the TOPS.

I do like “computation notebooks” (also called “lab notebooks”) in principle; but their bindings don’t lie flat (they’re optimized to make it fairly easy to tell if anything has been removed). They have numbered pages, which makes references easy and also contributes to detecting removals. But I don’t do the kind of work that needs a solid trail for patent applications.

A few companies make composition notebooks in quad rule, but again those don’t open flat, so I don’t find them as attractive to work with.

I’d have a lot more choices if I gave up insisting on quad-rule, but that really helps me organize my pages.


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